We were lucky enough to be able to send two of our members to the ACS Conference in Orlando at the beginning of April. Building on our connection as the first ACS Student Chapter in the UK, we flew out to Orlando to represent the University and our society.
Setting out on Sunday, a short walk from our hotel, we arrived at the conference center and were immediately overwhelmed with the sheer scale of conferences in the US compared to the United Kingdom. Initially, after registration, we attended the student hospitality center, which we found to be a good place to get our bearings, look through the student program of events and meet fellow students. We decided it would be best to split up and try to attend as much as possible to really take advantage of the opportunities provided.
The opportunity to attend a meeting of the ACS Board of Directors allowed us to meet face to face with the directors and learn about the ACS’s governance and its current actions. A few highlights in the first day were the Chemistry Demo exchange where a few suggestions have been taken on board, for targeting 11-13 year old pupils, that would suit the outreach we offer in a Swansea style, and we are looking at risk assessing these.
We spent some time listening to smaller seminars and symposiums that are on topics of interest to the university, one that particularly stood out was on the use of Machine learning in Chemistry and where this will likely go in the next 5 years.
Events such as the opening ceremony on the topic of Chemistry for new frontiers were incredibly interesting lectures on a variety of topics. Attending the IYPT celebration and international welcome was a fantastic opportunity to network with lots of people from across the globe who are at a more developed stage of their career than ourselves.
One of the highlights of the conference was the ACS student chapter awards this allowed us to see the amazing work going in other US Chapters and the size and enthusiasm shown by so many, we really wish we were eligible for awards, and we hope to take some of the focus points away to work on these areas, for example being more involved in green chemistry. It was great to see all of the international chapters recognized in a video and to see us on the big screen! The meet up for International Chapters provided an opportunity to meet other societies from around the world and learn how they provide a fun chemistry experience for their members. In particular, a few green chemistry ideas discussed will be taken back to the chapter to broaden the work done by the chapter.
Visiting the expo provided an opportunity to speak to different companies about the work being done in our university. So far, the chapter has only been able to speak with a few companies, so this allowed for wider scale networking than has been previously offered.
Looking around the careers fair also allowed us to see the global opportunities and encourage interaction between our chapter and some of these. Attending the student poster session gave an insight into how a large poster session was run. Previously, our student chapter has only done poster sessions on a small scale where they were presented to a small group of people involving a lecturer and a few students. To see the larger scale gave some insight on how to prepare our members for such an event – how to dress, hold yourself, how to look attentive being a few examples.
Next time we would really like to present a poster ourselves most likely on the outreach we are doing and the British spin we have put onto what we offer.
Being able to meet with so many people from the ACS and other huge organizations such as; companies, employers, researchers, IUPAC allowed us to start to build connections to the US and the rest of the world which we hope will continue to grow. Attending lectures such as the Chemistry of Disasters Chemical Symposium and the Kavali Lectures series were really engaging and well-presented, and we want to host more lectures of our own in this format with an important theme to the talks. The conference stood out for its massive use of social media hashtags particularly on Twitter and the digital screens around the convention were really exciting, students back home also enjoyed being able to see what we were up to!
Visiting the US, getting to explore a small amount of Orlando and attending an ACS conference was an amazing experience and we would have liked to have been able to stay longer. We are taking many things back to our student chapter from the symposiums, lectures, fairs, expos and conversations with attendees and other student chapters to help us and our university improve, focusing on our outreach and green chemistry.
More photos can be found on our social media channels #acsorlando @suchemsoc on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.